A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Friday, May 23, 2014

50 Years Ago: Pope Paul VI in Jerusalem, 1964

I'm working on a major post on Pope Francis impending visit, to Jordan,  Palestine and Israel (in that  order) this weekend. But let's lso remember what Francis intends to commemorate: the 50th anniversary of Pope Paul VI's visit to Jordan and Israel in January 1964. Unlike the peripatetic Popes of recent years, Popes then rarely left Italy; Paul VI was the first to break with that tradition. He was also the first Pope since the early days of Christianity to visit the Holy Land. It has since become rather expected, but it was extraordinary then, and also remembered for the meeting of the Pope with the Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras I and the subsequent cancellation of the mutul excommunications exchanged by their Catholic and Orthodox predecessors in 1054.

In 1964, Jerusalem was still divided, and the Pope  had to cross from Jordan-controlled Jerusalem to the Israeli side via the now-vanished Mandelbaum Gate. Video of Paul VI's visit in 1964:

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